A Blown Engine Turned This Jeep Gladiator Build Into A Monster
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
And before anyone goes off on us, Joe had completely sanitized his ride before, there was no shaking of hands (elbow bumps were the greetings of choice), and there were only three of us so a big group wasn't a problem.
Now let's get into this build. This started off as a relatively normal Jeep build, 37-inch tires, 4.5-inch lift, normal Jeep things. And then Joe supercharged it, and it blew up. After installing a supercharger and bringing the horsepower up to almost 400, just after the break-in period was over, the large amount of power exploited a factory defect in the 3.6 Liter V6 that comes stock on the Gladiator. This weak point in the block didn't last long under the new power given to the car and it threw a rod through the block. So what did Joe do then? He trailered it to Flint Michigan to Hemi swap it!
If any of our audience watches YouTube and is into cars, you've most likely heard of The Stradman. If you know The Stradman, you know America's Most Wanted 4x4. This is the place to Hemi swap a Jeep, and that's exactly where Joe went. Before the V6 blew, there was talk of a Hellcat swap, but that was pushed aside when the supercharger came on. Then after the engine blew, there was a 5.7 Liter Hemi idea, and that was scrapped as the 6.4 was a better option for Joe, so that's what they went with. The 6.4 Liter V8 is a massively powerful engine that is used in the Dodge Charger and Challenger 392 models and is rated at 485 horsepower. There is one problem with the new engine, it weighs 200lbs more than stock, so the front suspension can’t handle it, and the front squats down a little bit. Because this is the crate engine, it comes with about 500 horsepower. AMW 4x4 did an intake, tune, and exhaust so now it sits at about 515. Not to mention it was upgraded with the transmission from a Ram 2500 to handle the extra power. Not enough specs for you? Not only does it do 0-60 in 5 seconds but here's a full modification list to show you how extensive this build is.
-4.5" Evo MFG Long Arm Lift with King Coilovers
-17 x 8.5" Black Rhino Primms (real beadlocks)
-BF Goodrich 37 x 12.5" Tires (-38 offset)
-GoRhino Stubby Front Bumper
-Smittybuilt 12,000lb winch
-Rough Country 30", 20" and cube LED lights
-6.4 Liter Hemi Swap
-Nfab Tube Steps
The experience this car gives you is exciting and very very loud, but also gives the person driving and the passengers an odd feeling. Because everyone knows its a near 4-ton vehicle, but when you floor it you're thrown back in your seat, stunned at how it simply hustles down the road. And the sounds the Gladiator makes on upshifts are hilariously loud. Floor it right up to redline and you'll get a slur, almost a fart from the Hemi between gears.
People sometimes build fast Jeeps, this not only is a fast Jeep but an actually capable one that is used both on and off-road regularly. This isn't only purpose-built for off-roading, but when it gets all cleaned up, could pass for a very nice show car too. Because it doesn't look silly with a big lift and large tires, the bead-locks look functional and good at the exact same time. And as soon as you look under the hood you know it means business.
Although we didn't have the place or time to take the Gladiator off-road, the videos on Joes Instagram, @hilltopphotography_ show how capable it is, and that was still before the swap. Stay tuned for more videos and off-roading on his account. We'd like to thank Joe again for coming out and showing us his freshly swapped Gladiator (the run-in period ended the day before) in this weird and crazy experience this world is going through. Stay safe everyone and we hope you enjoyed this review of a flying brick!